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Eye On Boise

Mon., Nov. 8, 2010, 9:11 a.m.

Lawmakers gather, at least one leadership contest takes shape

Lawmakers from around the state, including some newly elected, rolled on buses into the Silver Valley this morning as part of the North Idaho legislative tour, after hearing a presentation from Lt. Gov. Brad Little about the work of the governor's transportation funding task force. Last night, the legislators held party caucuses, which included an announcement at the House GOP caucus from Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, that he's running for majority caucus chairman, challenging current Chairman Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly.

If Nonini won that spot - elections will happen at the early-December organizational session - he'd have to give up the chairmanship of the House Education Committee. "We have grown to 57 and the reason I'm running for caucus chair is I think I could serve our whole caucus in a good capacity in that position," Nonini told Eye on Boise. "I've chaired the education committee for the last four years. There's a lot of good talent. I think we have a lot of good members who could step up and do just as good a job as I have done or better." He added, "We need to make these moves," to take advantage of "the talent we have in our caucus."

In the House Democratic Caucus meeting last night, the mood, according to House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, was "subdued." Talk focused on the election results, in which the Democrats lost five House seats. For the most part, Rusche said, "Tactical changes in how we did the campaigns and stuff wouldn't have made any difference. The national Democratic brand was not well-received in Idaho." The minority has an opening in its leadership, with Assistant Minority Leader James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, opting not to seek re-election this year; Rusche said "a number of people have expressed interest."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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